On Wednesday, the Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards, and Los Angeles Clippers were all but done with a three-team trade that would have sent Kristaps Porzingis to Boston. The Wizards would have gotten Marcus Morris, Amir Coffey, Danilo Gallinari, and the No. 30 pick on Thursday in exchange for Malcolm Brogdon, who would have signed with the Clippers. When questions were raised about Brogdon’s health, the Clippers backed out late Wednesday night.
It is possible that the Celtics and Wizards will strike a new arrangement, either alone or in conjunction with a third club. We evaluated the deal just before negotiations broke down. Boston and Washington might keep the principle alive with a bilateral agreement.To start, the Celtics are C+. Porzingis had a career year for him. The previous high was 60 games, achieved in 2016–17.
He scored 23.2 points per game on average, which is almost as much as the combined total of Al Horford, Robert Williams III, and Grant Williams (25.9 points per game) for Boston’s starting frontcourt. He averaged 5.5 3-point attempts per game, making 38.5 percent of them. His defensive prowess was noted by several metrics last season, including RAPTOR WAR, EPM, and defensive real plus-minus. In basketball, Kristaps Porzingis excels.
It shouldn’t be hard to match up the two ends of the floor. Porzingis, a stationary rim protector, pairs well with Robert Williams III, a wide-ranging, weak-side assist specialist. They are a good fit in terms of offense. Williams is eager to slam dunk. Shooting is a hobby for Porzingis. The addition of Williams and Porzingis ought to boost the Celtics’ offensive rebounding. Horford’s declining mobility could make it difficult for him to play with Porzingis, but he can play with anyone else.
The lack of postseason scoring for Boston supports this move. Boston averaged the second-most 3-point attempts in the NBA per game, but they ranked just 23rd in points in the paint and 27th in mid-range shots. When it counted, Boston’s attack relied heavily on 3-point shots. They were trapped. A 7-foot-3, all-around offensive center who can score in the post and from outside is handy when nothing else is working. That’s a problem Boston has in the latter stages of playoff games.
But the dangers are so great that any potential benefits seem laughable in comparison. The first area is the bottom line. Boston receives a $7 million raise this year. HoopsHype’s Yossi Gozlan estimates that, with 12 players under contract, they are $8 million short of the second apron. Certainly not Grant Williams. Boston is considering bringing him back for the second unit, although Horford and Robert Williams are still on the roster. How many minutes do the Celtics’ starting five get per game? Therefore, two essential elements are missing from this deal. The Celtics may use the taxpayer mid-level exception to acquire a perimeter player after Grant Williams’ departure for a total of $5 million. Ultimately, it’s up to the gamer.
Williams, however, was the most dependable of the front court players. In one season, he missed only nine games. Robert Williams has appeared in less than 54% of the regular season games (209 out of 390) for the Celtics since being chosen by the team in 2018. His performance has been subpar during their last two deep playoff runs.
Porzingis is not an improvement. In his first seven years with the organization, he appeared in 58% of the regular-season games, but last year he played in a career-high 65%. This pairing makes sense on paper, but given both players’ history of injury, it seems highly unlikely. But Horford is 37 years old. How high of hopes should the Celtics have for him?